…part of the More Together series
SATRO is an educational charity and my charity of choice. It’s aim to inspire young people to enter and embrace the world of STEM (Science . Technology . Engineering . Maths) is very dear to me. Over the years I have myself been inspired by SATRO and the young people it works with so it gives me great pleasure to share insights into the mentoring aspects of this organisation’s work.
Please let me introduce you to…
Lisa Dimbylow | Programme Manager | SATRO
About SATRO, Lisa says…
SATRO is an amazing charity which aims to inspire young people about the world of work, helping them reach their full potential and introducing them to professionals in dynamic and innovative STEM sectors. Based in Guildford, SATRO works with over 7,000 students each year aged from 5-19 across the South East. It has over 600 volunteers who work in schools to deliver fun and inspiring activities, ranging from engineering-based challenges, STEM festivals, careers speed-dating, construction courses, work placement schemes, TED-style talks and mentoring programmes.
About herself, Lisa says…
An English Literature degree led to my first proper job in 1994 at EMAP Business Publishing working in sales and marketing on Local Government Chronicle magazine. I discovered a passion for communications and went on to work for the Local Government Association, Capita and various Communications agencies, helping public sector bodies make the most of their internal and external communications. In 2011, a chance conversation at book club with Dr Beccy Bowden, then SATRO CEO, launched my new career in the third sector as SATRO Fundraiser and volunteer mentor. I now manage the mentoring programme across the South East.
Mentoring Insights from Lisa
Elaine… SATRO offers a range of services which invest in and inspire young people. Please could you tell us about the mentoring services you offer.
Lisa… SATRO has been running mentoring schemes for over 16 years in schools across the South East. Typically working with young people in Years 10 and 11 (aged 14-16) the SATRO mentoring model brings together business volunteers and young people who meet fortnightly on a 1-2-1 basis in school, over the course of one or two academic years.
A uniquely supportive relationship develops between mentor and mentee and helps students (and mentors!) build confidence, improve their attitude to learning, develop communication and organisational skills and encourage them to make more informed choices about their future. SATRO Mentoring currently supports over 150 students and in 2016 we received the NCVO National Mentoring and Befriending Accreditation. We select and fully train our mentors and support them during their time as a mentor. Our schemes are supported by wonderful mentors from CISCO, SANOFI, UNUM, Allianz, JUST, Reigate & Banstead BC, Wates Construction and Tandridge DC.
Elaine… As an organisation, why do you offer mentoring services?
Lisa… Young people today have to deal with more pressure than ever. New, more difficult, exam systems, a packed curriculum, the requirement to stuff college applications full of extra-curricular achievements, an omnipresent social media and being measured in binary terms of ‘success’ or failure’ make for a stressful and sometimes isolating teenage experience.
For many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, experience of the working world is limited to their parents and teachers. They don’t have the connections or opportunities afforded to their more fortunate peers, and careers advice in most state schools is minimal. How are they supposed to make informed choices about their future? How can they reach their full potential and achieve success if they don’t know what is available to them?
SATRO believes that regular and sustained mentoring from trained volunteers from the business sector, is one way to support these young people. Our mentors are all ages, from the beginning to the twilight of their careers, and by sharing their real life experiences with their mentee, the student can appreciate that school to college to career is not a straight line; that ‘failures’ are just another door opening, that there is a world of different choices out there and a meaningful role for every individual.
Elaine… You obviously care deeply about investing in young people and in mentoring. In your opinion, what are the benefits to mentors and mentees?
Lisa… For students, the opportunity to sit with a professional over the course of one or two years is invaluable. Where else can they enjoy 45 minutes of one-to-one conversation in a confidential and non-judgemental environment? Mentors are trained to be objective but over time become ‘professional friends’, working with their students to set goals, work on areas that need improvement, build confidence and most importantly, give praise. When parents and teachers themselves have very little time, how wonderful to be welcomed by your mentor, have a laugh about the football, share your anxieties and receive positive comments just for coming along and engaging.
Mentors leave each and every meeting knowing they are helping that young person achieve better things. It is an amazing feeling. And when they manage to crack the crust of teenage indifference, there is no doubt that their communication, coaching and listening skills have all gone up a notch.
There is lots of current research supporting the fact that students who have four or more interactions with employers over the course of their school life benefit hugely in terms of personal development and readiness for work. SATRO mentoring provides c. 15 interactions each year – the impact of that level of support can be life-changing.
Elaine… Please could you share a success story from SATRO’s work which demonstrates the value of mentoring.
Lisa… Charley attends Kingston College and is currently in Year 12 studying Production Arts. He started his mentoring programme aged 15 when he was struggling at school and described as ‘academically disengaged’. He is still in contact with his mentor (Mike) and still receives his support with exams at college.
“My Mentor has helped me to increase my confidence and improved my interview and communication skills. He helped me find my perfect college course and helped me gain important contacts in the industry. Through having a Mentor, I have been able to organise my time to ensure I was revising efficiently for my GCSE exams.
Before I had a Mentor, I was struggling to find any further education after school which could help me achieve my desired career as a Lighting Designer. My Mentor had contacts who were able to inform me of the perfect college course for me and that is what I am currently studying. I am hoping to find an apprenticeship in Stage Lighting or work after college. I am however, still considering going to University. My long term ambition is to become a Lighting Designer. I am hoping to gain experience after college by carrying out as much work experience as I can as a Rigger or Lighting Operator which will help me achieve this.
Without SATRO Mentoring, I would not have found the right course for me, I would therefore not have gained the amazing work experience I have carried out this year. Due to the help from my Mentor, I am now in a much better position studying what I love and feeling confident about my desired career. I would definitely recommend mentoring to everyone.”
Learn more about SATRO here…
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.